Best to go organic on pears. They carry on ripening after picking, so choose firm green ones. Store in the cold and eat the moment when ready. It may be tricky to identify this perfect moment; cooking them is a lot easier. As a rule, eat Comice, but cook Conference. ‘Butter’ pears are reputedly the best — Beurre d’Anjou or Beurre Bosc.

Pears go with everything apples do — so that’s cheese, nuts and all pork products, from pies to Parma ham

  • Pears stewed in red wine: Use up leftover red wine (or better still, mulled wine) by stewing pears in it, along with sugar, cinnamon, ginger, vanilla extract, and any other spices you like. Ideally, leave overnight in a cold place — this dish tastes even better the next day. Serve with cream, icecream, or melted chocolate
  • Salads: Slice pears thinly and (even if they are not fully ripe) they go well in salads involving cheese or nuts. Use pears instead of apples (and mix Parmesan into the dressing), for a variation on Waldorf salad
  • Braised: With red cabbage and a little Balsamic, butter & dark brown sugar
  • Tarts: Slice pears thinly and use as you would apple in a tarte tatin: arrange the slices on puff pastry and dot with brown sugar and butter; a scattering of cardamom seeds enhances this dish
  • Purée: As with stewed pears. Core, peel & stew with your preferred spices; serve with cream or chocolate

Pears are related to roses. They come in nearly 1000 varieties, from the humble Conference to the exotic crunchy Asian. Pears have occasionally provoked strong feeling — in ancient times, they were considered superior to apples; Louis XIV was a particular fan; 19th Century New England suffered (or enjoyed) a state of ‘pearmania.’ Delia has an amazing recipe for Roquefort Cheesecake with Pears in Balsamic Vinaigrette as a main course. Larousse suggests ‘Poirissimo’ or, as we might say, Pear Done Five Ways: a soupçon each of pear compôte, conserve, tart, granita, & pears in wine.

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